Recently, my role at BNP Media expanded, as I am now Editor-In-Chief ofTILE Magazine. While I have been writing about tile for years as Editor ofContemporaryStone & Tile Design, this new assignment will focus heavily on some of the more technical aspects of the industry. With this in mind, I headed to Chandler, AZ, last week to attend Total Solutions Plus, a meeting of industry members from the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and Tile Council of North America (TCNA). As I had hoped, attending the conference provided me with more insight into the tile industry, and it included educational seminars that were a valuable tool for me to gain more knowledge of the technical side of the industry.

While at Total Solutions Plus, TCNA announced "Green Squared" -- a new product certification program based on Standard A138.1 Specifications for Sustainable Ceramic Tiles, Glass Tiles and Tile Installation. TCNA developed the standard through a consensus body utilizing the ANSI (American National Standard) process, and it will oversee the Green Squared certification program. A "Green Squared Certified" mark will be awarded to products which have been verified by an authorized third party certifier to be in conformance with A138.1. The third party certifier will be NSF Sustainability SM, an organization that provides certification for more than 350,000 products in the area of food and water safety, health sciences, environment and sustainability. NSF will verify that all mandatory requirements and necessary elective credits are met through the certification process.

With green building and LEED points becoming far more than just buzzwords among architects and designers today, the Green Squared product certification program is a huge step towards sustainability. While the number of available tile products that are made with recycled material continues to grow, the fact that these products can now be stamped with a "Green Squared Certified" mark sets a high standard among tile manufacturers to be in compliance. It also allows architects and designers to feel a sense of confidence and security in the products that they select. What is really great about this certification program is that it extends beyond tile products and includes tile installation materials as well -- making for a complete package that ensures a sustainable design.

The Green Squared certification will be valid for three years -- with abbreviated monitoring annually by NSF. I think this is an important way to make certain that manufacturers of green tile and installation products continue to uphold the quality of their products and continue to follow the guidelines to be qualified as a sustainable product.

In the stone arena, the National Stone Council (NSC), which was formed in 2003 "to unify the industry in promoting the value and use of Genuine Stone® in all building applications," created a Sustainability Committee. The committee -- comprised of NSC board members and other industry professionals -- is designed to properly define Genuine Stone's environmental impact.

The Sustainability Committee has enlisted the support of an external advisory committee comprised of respected architects knowledgeable about green building to provide guidance for their effort, reports the NSC. They have also partnered with the University of Tennessee's Center for Clean Products to collect data and develop comparative information on the environmental impacts and benefits of building with Genuine Stone. Through this effort, the NSC intends to establish stone and stone products as an environmentally responsible choice for designers, installers and building owners alike.

In this day and age, green building and sustainable design play a significant role in making for a better environment.  It is encouraging to see the strides that are being made in both the tile and stone industries in regard to this subject. As time moves on, I'm sure there will be even more standards set to ensure products meet the stringent requirements that are needed to be certified as a green product.

For those interested in learning more information about certification for Green Squared, e-mail NSF at: To learn more about the efforts of the NSC's Sustainability Committee, visit: And, of course, to keep updated on the latest industry happenings, including developments in green design, check out our Web site at: